Thursday, June 30, 2016

Esky, Royals out-Whit, outlast Cards in 12th

After squandering leads in the ninth and 10th, the Royals sealed a 3-2 victory over the Cardinals on Wednesday night when Alcides Escobar dropped a 12th-inning, RBI double along the right-field foul line.
The extra-innings victory, Kansas City's fourth of the season, helped the Royals regain the edge in the I-70 Series, which shifted to Busch Stadium after the clubs split a pair of games on the other side of the state.
Escobar's go-ahead double caromed off the glove of a sliding Stephen Piscotty to plateWhit Merrifield, who had doubled just ahead of Escobar. It was Escobar's second RBI of the game. He had earlier put the Royals ahead, 1-0, with an eighth-inning sacrifice fly. That lead was squandered with Wade Davis' blown save in the ninth. Joakim Soria blew another save opportunity in the 10th.
"Whit with a huge hit to get into scoring position," Royals manager Ned Yost said. "And Esky ended up doing what he does best, just poking the ball down the right-field line. He finds a way to get the ball in play."
With two out in the ninth, Cardinals shortstop Jhonny Peralta forced extra innings with an RBI single off Davis, who had previously converted 18 of his 19 save chances this year. The rally was set up by a leadoff walk and pinch-hit single.
The Royals then watched another lead vanish in the 10th when Piscotty opened the frame with his ninth homer. Kansas City had surged back in front in the top half of the inning by taking advantage of a pair of St. Louis errors.
"It's just a good example of us fighting back," said Piscotty, who was nursing a bruised left ankle after the game. "It's something we're going to continue to do all season long. You don't always win them, but it's great to get that effort."
#EskyMagic: In his first trip back to the leadoff role since he was bounced from it on June 10, Escobar went 1-for-4, but he came through with a clutch RBI against Jonathan Broxton. The Royals, who had left 11 on base through seven innings, loaded the bases with one out in the eighth. Escobar fouled off a tough 1-2 fastball on the outer edge, then lifted the next pitch deep enough to right. Escobar then sliced a sinking liner in the 12th that was barely fair and plated Merrifield.
"The sacrifice fly, I just tried to put it in play," Escobar said. "The double, same thing. Got a slider and put it down the line."
Did Escobar think the ball was fair as the Cardinals challenged it? It took 48 seconds for the call to be confirmed.
"No, not at first," he said. "Then I saw the replay and I knew it was fair."
Bottoms up: Carlos Martinez skirted around trouble all night, and he took advantage of a DH-less Royals team to help him out of three of those jams. Christian Colon and Jarrod Dyson reached a combined six times against Martinez as Kansas City's seventh- and eighth-hole hitters. But things stalled behind them as Edinson Volquez, taking his first at-bats of the season, ended three innings with runners on base. With the scoreless outing, Martinez, who stranded nine runners in all in six-plus innings, has a 0.64 ERA over his last four starts. More >
"He just keeps getting better," Cardinals manager Mike Matheny said. "The way he uses his stuff, the way he mixes up his movement, the way he's trusting it and pounding the zone and trusting his defense, that's a huge step from even a year ago when we watched this kid. To me, he's starting to find his stride."
Bounceback Eddie: One start after Volquez gave up 12 runs (11 earned) in one-plus innings, he bounced back strong against the Cards. Volquez, who said after his last start that his fastball and sinker had no movement, had late life on his pitches again and scattered six hits in 6 2/3 innings. The only real threat off Volquez came in the fourth when the Cardinals had two runners on with one out. But Volquez got Kolten Wong to ground out and Greg Garcia to fly out. More >
"He just had a bad start last time," Yost said. "But he had a good one tonight. He pitched deep into the seventh inning. ... Eddie just did a fantastic job. He had everything for him. He had good movement on his fastball, got bite on his breaking ball."
The Killer P's: Neither Peralta, nor Piscotty, enjoyed much success on the Cards' recent road trip, but both contributed game-tying hits on Wednesday. Peralta was 0-for-20 before his fifth-inning infield single. He then delivered a two-out RBI single to tie it at 1 in the ninth. Piscotty, who went 6-for-32 on the road trip, had just his second multi-hit game since June 12.
The Royals challenged a hit-by-pitch ruling in the seventh. Originally, it was ruled that Cardinals shortstop Garcia was hit by a pitch in the foot from Volquez. The call was overturned and Garcia eventually fouled out. The Royals reviewed a similar play in the ninth, arguing that Eric Hosmer was nicked in the foot by a pitch. They lost that challenge.
Royals: Right-hander Chris Young (2-7, 6.54 ERA) takes the mound for the Royals on Thursday in the series finale at 6:15 p.m. CT. Young gave up seven runs in 2 1/3 innings in his last start, one run shy of his career high.
Cardinals: Right-hander Mike Leake (5-5, 4.25), looking to rebound from a 3 1/3-inning outing against the Mariners his last time out, will be making his first career start against the Royals in the I-70 Series finale on Thursday at Busch Stadium.

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